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Garden Ramblings, Issue #046
June 15, 2008

 

June 2008


Monthly Musings on the Garden Scene

 

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If you prefer, you can view this month's issue online where you can also subscribe if this copy has been forwarded to you by a friend.

If you are reading the text version you will need to go online to see the videos.

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In this issue:

- Letter from the Editor
- Rose Garden
- Everyone Needs A Spaghetti Garden
- Ladybugs, Ladybugs, Come to My Garden
- Special Offers
- Tailpiece

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Hi

Welcome to the June issue of Garden Ramblings. As usual there are two articles by guest authors this month, but since they are rather longer than sometimes, I have not slipped in an extra one this time.

James Ellison tells us that "Everyone Needs A Spaghetti Garden". This is for anyone who has thought about growing herbs but never taken the plunge. Here you will find plant descriptions and growing tips with the emphasis on Italian cuisine.

Our second guest author is Lesley Dietschy who is mad about ladybugs, but with good reason as you will discover when you read her article.

As usual there is a Special Offers section with all the bargains that I've managed to find this month.

For me June means roses so we start with two minutes devoted to this noble flower.

Enjoy the issue.

Hugh

 

 

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Rose Garden



*********************************************************** Everyone Needs A Spaghetti Garden
by James Ellison

One of the delightful pleasures of life are herbs. Besides adding beauty to your garden they make foods taste better and provide a pleasant scent to the air we breathe. In George Washington's days everyone had a herb garden that they used for culinary, teas and medicinal purposes. That practice is slowly coming back. A spaghetti garden is one of the most popular kitchen gardens. Anyone that has a sunny patch of ground or a window-box can grow these herbs of parsley, garlic, basil, bay laurel and oregano. A small garden space can easily yield all the herbs that you’ll need for delicious Italian meals. They are even easy to grow in a sunny window for your year-round use.

Let us take a closer look at the spaghetti garden herbs:

+Oregano is a perennial ground cover plant. Oregano is a prolific grower that can send out shoots that grow to six feet in a single season. If pruned and bunched, oregano can grow into a small border plant. It would rather have light, thin soil and lots of sun, so keep it on the south side of your garden. When the plants reach 4-5 inches harvesting can start. Pinch off the top 1/3 of the plant, just above a leaf intersection. The young leaves are actually stronger dried than fresh and are the most flavorful part of the plant. To dry, lay the leaves on newspaper or a drying screen in the sun until the leaves crumble easily. It will retain its flavor for months.

+Bay leaves add a favorable hint of spice to stews, soups and spaghetti sauce. The bay laurel is a small tree that grows about a foot per year, this makes it suitable for growing in a container. If you live in a mild climate zone leave the container outside, but if temperatures go below 25 degrees keep the tree in a pot and bring it indoors during the winter.

+Basil seeds itself so easily that you may never have to buy another plant after the first year. There are many different kinds of basil, but all grow rapidly and require frequent pinching back to prevent them from growing tall and leggy. When the plants have reached about 6-8 inches tall, you can begin harvesting. Pinch off the top 1/3 of the plant, just above a leaf intersection. Pinch off any flower buds before they go to seed. Six to eight plants will provide enough basil for the entire neighborhood.

+Garlic is probably the easiest plant to grow. Break apart a clove of garlic, and plant the cloves about four inches apart, two to four inches deep in a light soil. Lightly water and watch them grow. You may harvest when tips of the leaves turn brown but do not let them flower. Just dig up the bulbs, and use them. To keep a fresh supply take one or two cloves from each bulb and replant them.

+Parsley is probably the most used herb in the world. You will find both flat (Italian) and curly types. They complement the flavor of everything from sauces to hearty stews. It is used as a garnish on plates, or cut up and added to soups, dressings and salads. Parsley adds vitamins and color, and quietly brings out the flavor of other ingredients in the dish. Parsley is a biennial, flowering in its second season. It prefers a little shade on a hot sunny day, and should be kept watered to avoid wilting and drying. Pinch back older stems to the base, allowing new leaves and branches to grow.

Grow your own tomatoes and you are well on your way to becoming a Italian chef.

Author James Ellison makes it easy for you to understand herbs needed and knowing where to put them. If you need to know more about organic gardening or herbs visit: www.basic-info-4-organic-fertilizers.com/herbs.html



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Ladybugs, Ladybugs, Come to My Garden
by Lesley Dietschy

Ladybugs, also called lady beetles or ladybirds, can be a gardener’s best friend. The ladybug’s bright coloring brings welcomed cheer to the garden, as well as helping with pest control. Since medieval times, ladybugs have been valued by farmers all over the world. Many believe that the ladybug was divinely sent to free crops of insect pests. In fact, that is how the ladybug got its name. People dedicated the bug to the Virgin Mary and therefore called it “The Bug of our Lady”, which was eventually shortened to the present name “ladybug”.

Adult ladybugs are usually oval or domed shaped and have red wings, yellow wings or shades and variations of these colors. The number of black spots can range from no spots to 15 spots and they are typically about one quarter inch in size or smaller.

The length of the life cycle of a ladybug varies depending upon temperature, humidity, and food supply. Usually the life cycle from egg to adult is about three to four weeks, and up to six weeks during the cooler spring months. During the spring the adult female ladybug can lay up to three hundred eggs in an aphid colony. The eggs normally hatch in two to five days. The newly hatched larvae feed on aphids for up to three weeks and then enter the pupae stage. About one week later, the adult ladybug emerges. There can be as many as six generations of ladybugs hatched in a year.

The ladybug enjoys popularity around the world. These pretty insects have long been considered a symbol of good luck and fortune because of their ability to eat an enormous amount of aphids. One ladybug can eat as many as 50 to 60 aphids per day. Aphids (also called plant lice) are herbivores and are one of the worst groups of pests on plants. They feed in colonies and damage plants by sucking the juice out of the leaves, stems, or roots. While aphids feed, they damage plant tissue creating a loss of plant fluids and the photosynthetic tissue needed to produce energy for plant growth. Some plants will show no adverse response to aphids, while others react with twisted, curled or swollen leaves or stems. Aphids also transmit many plant diseases from one plant to another.

Apart from aphids, ladybugs eat a variety of other insects and larvae including white flies, mealy bugs, spider mites, and other types of soft-bodied insects. They also require a source of pollen for food and for that reason are attracted to certain types of plants. Their preferred plants have umbrella shaped flowers such as dill, fennel, angelica, tansy, caraway, cilantro, yarrow, and wild carrot. Other plants that attract ladybugs include cosmos (especially the white ones), dandelions, coreopsis, and scented geraniums.

If your garden does not have adequate space to plant ladybug attracting plants, you can purchase ladybugs from numerous websites on the internet and most nurseries. Before releasing them into your garden, here are a few tips to help ensure that the ladybugs stay where you want them:

1. Release ladybugs near infested plants after sun down or before sun up. They navigate by the sun and are most likely to stay put in the evenings and early mornings.

2. Water the area where you are going to release the ladybugs. They will appreciate the drink and the moisture on the leaves will help the ladybugs to “stick” on the plants. If released in a dry garden, the ladybugs will most likely fly off in search of a drink instead of sticking around to eat.

3. In the warmer months, chill the ladybugs in the refrigerator before releasing them. This will not harm the ladybugs and they tend to crawl more in colder temperatures rather than fly away.

Another way to attract ladybugs to your garden is to place several ladybug habitation boxes around your garden. Fill the boxes with organic material such as peat or compost to encourage ladybugs to roost and lay eggs inside the box. In addition, the habitation box also provides protection for the ladybugs in the winter months.

To further promote ladybug populations, consider cutting back on spraying insecticides in your garden. Ladybugs are sensitive to most synthetic insecticides and if the majority of their food source is gone, they will not lay their eggs and therefore will not continue to populate.

Here are some interesting ladybug facts:

• There are nearly 5,000 different kinds of ladybugs worldwide and 400 which live in North America.

• A female ladybug will lay more than 1000 eggs in her lifetime.

• A ladybug beats its wings 85 times a second when it flies.

• A gallon jar will hold from 72,000 to 80,000 ladybugs.

• Ladybugs make a chemical that smells and tastes terrible so that birds and other predators won't eat them.

• The spots on a ladybug fade as the ladybug gets older.

• Ladybugs won't fly if the temperature is below 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

• The ladybug is the official state insect of Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Ohio, and Tennessee.

As you can see, the ladybug is one of the most effective and economically important insects to have in your garden. In some cultures, seeing ladybugs in gardens indicates a bountiful harvest, an indication of good weather or a good luck omen. Create an alluring environment for ladybugs and they are sure to provide charm and pest control in your garden for years to come.

About the Author:

Lesley Dietschy is a writer, jewelry designer, and the founder of a network of popular websites including http://www.HomeDecorExchange.com and http://www.HomeGardenExchange.com. Both of these websites feature valuable information and resources to assist you in decorating your home and garden.

Also visit http://www.TheJewelryPlaza.com for your ultimate jewelry resource.



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Special Offers

With one exception it's still too early in the year to find sales of gardening products or special bargains so there is little to report this month.

Gardener's Supply Company still have a few items in their Outlet section, but as you see from the banner, the basic discount is now just 15% when you spend $50.

 

Gardener's Supply Company

 

Dutch Gardens are still running their Spring Clearance Sale where you can save up to 70% on all spring-shipped bulbs and perennials.

Gurney's Seed & Nursery Co have an online exclusive - Get 48% Off their Climbing Rose Collection. As you see from the banner you can still save $20 when you spend $40 or more.

 

Shop at Gurneys.com for your vegetable and flower seeds!

 

 

 

This month Nature Hills Nursery are offering discounts of 60% on annuals, 35% on fruit trees and 35% on ornamental trees.

 

 



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Tailpiece

 

Salvia, Salvia, Save Me (from the deer)

 



********************************************************* Please feel free to pass on this newsletter to your gardening friends. Do let me have your feedback and suggestions to: [email protected]

 

That's all until next month but in the meantime you can always look at my Blog Garden Supplies News

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